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tv   Sino News Magazine  PBS  March 20, 2011 8:30pm-9:00pm PDT

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this is nhk world, please stay tuned. >> this is the tenth day when the earthquake hit the region which is considered to be the worst disaster in the post-war era. the pikt entire pick the. you are is yet unknown, but we do know that 18,000 people either died or are missing. more than 330,000 people are taking shelters. and in addition, the most vulnerable are dying in evacuation centers. a series of explosions and fires crippled the fukushima daiichi
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nuclear power plant and the pressure inside set the number three reactor's containment vessel is rising. it is really worrisome. the self-defense force, fire departments and other entities have been working desperately to minimize the radioactive materials. what can we do? what should we do to prevent. we have a two-part report. in the first half of the program we'd like to report on the nuclear crisis. in the second half we'd like to report on the affected people. first, we would like to update you on the crisis of the nuclear power plant. as for the number one and number two reactors, the workers are trying to light cables to restore the power. however, the overall power system is yet to be restored. why is it so hard to make the
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power system alive again which is considered to be that? the essential factor to bring the end with the solution that we -- a construction worker explained to us at the time of the blackout. >> we were able to interview one worker who was working at the reactor number one and twongs w with this man who was the tsunami worker said at the power plant and it was -- everything was a total mess and he tried to confirm if the electrical system was still working, but he found out that after being submerged under water it wasn't working and since electricity has stopped there's nothing that could be used to cool the reactors because the earthquake and tsunamis were far beyond the assumption of the design of the plant. all six reactors lost power supply.
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the key solution is to recover that power supply, however for reactors three and four, we see that the water and the spent fuel storage pool is evaporating and high levels of radiation is being detected in the area around these buildings making work in the area very dangerous. so the first thing that was done was water injection by tokyo fire department and the self-defense force to reactor number three. we went to report on the harsh conditions which the operation took place. yesterday the tokyo fire department carried out their water operation over 13 hours and a half. the water pumping operation to reactor number three was an all-out operation involving also the police and the self-defense force.
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it was a fight, also, against radiation. this firefighter says that they were fighting an invisible enemy. therefore, fear kept mounting and they had to keep the fire fighters focused and also to make sure that they only received limited exposure and there was an organization that supported this operation. cnbc, or central nuclear biological and weapon defense unit of the ground self-defense force. they were there to watch out, to make sure that the operation team was only exposed to minimal amount of radiation.
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these are very special protective gears with lead, but they weigh 22 kilograms. this troop member explains that this will protect the areas of the body that is susceptible to the effects of radiation, for example, the thyroid glands, the internal organs and also the bone marrow. this is an armored vehicle, the chemical reconnaissance vehicle that can go into areas where there is high radiation. this unit with special equipment now found themselves involved in the operation at the power plant. this official of the self-defense force says it was, of course, an operation beyond initial assumptions.
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however she says the troop members all know of the basic principle ps of working in the high radiation area and therefore they can cooperate with each other and support each other to manage the amount of exposure. water was to be injected into the spent fuel storage pool of reactor number three. this is a power plant that is the same time@as the fukushima daiichi power plant. the pool should be filled with water like this. the water has two roles to play. one is to cool the spent fuel the second role is to make sure that the radiation from the spent fuel does not leak outside.
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in this earthquake the cooling system for this pool was no longer operational and therefore the water in the pool evaporated and after the fuel was exposed, radiation leaked out of the building. you can see steam coming out of reactor 3 and this shows the water is evaporating this was on the fifth day after the earthquake. an official says the steam coming out of reactor number three shows that this is quite a serious situation right after the accident. people were focusing on the nuclear fuel rods on the reactor
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itself. however, this fuel rod is protected by the vessel as well as the reactor containment vessel. the spent fuel which has gone through its nuclear fission becaus of that it didn't have any protection against the leakage of water. this accident showed the blind spot for even experts on nuclear power plants. this expert says that nobody suspected that the cooling system would be lost because of electricity loss. this is truly a severe accident. >> what happens if the water loss situation continues? this is an experiment that took
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place in the french atomic energy research institute. the spent nuclear fuel will generate heat to 2500 degrees celsius and the coating outside of the fuel is distorted because of this heat. iodine is now exposed. if something like the experiment happens, and if radiation is dispersed into the air, it would create a very serious situation where contamination occurs in the area around the plant. in order to prevent such a situation from happening, even in high radiation, work had to
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take place immediately. this is the command post in the sdf chemical academy. we were able to go and to cover the story. one troop member reports on the plant situation says that the reactor number three will go through a water injection operation. it's not just the self-defense force, but also this team was responsible to look at the exposure to radiation of all the team members and also to account the time, the limited time that they were allowed to work in that environment. on the 15th before the water injection operation started, they were up in the air to measure the radiation level.
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as high as 250 mill 0 millisievr hour were recorded and this made the water injection operation very difficult. this expert says that it meant that it is very dangerous and this high level indicates that only in lifesaving operations are people allowed to go into such an environment. the time people can work in this environment is very short meaning that people will have to rotate meaning that a lot of people would have to be involved in this operation. the water dumping operation from the skies. the helicopter dropped water
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from 90 meters from the ground. they didn't hover over the reactors and the operation took place over a 40-minute period and this is an image taken from the crv, close to the reactor number three building. they were measuring the radiation amount as they tried to guide the water pumping cars into the area. the maximum amount of exposure measured among the troop members was 27 millisieverts which was below the limit of exposure. and now starting this morning water injection operation on number four was started. this is an immediate measure to fill the storage pool of water, and after that the operation to recover electricity would start.
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at the number three reactor the dousing operation will continue again this evening and now we are joined by our reporter yushio, and the professor from osaka university. good evening. first of all, at the fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant for reactors one through six, the situation is changing very quickly so will you wrap the situation up for us? >> translator: if you could sum ride, i'll use the stick to explain. at the power plant there are six reactors and with the tremors from the earthquake and the tsunami many devices, equipment were dysfunctional and explosions took place and the
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reactors became unable to cool the fuel and the spent nuclear storage pools began to heat up so a lot is going on and if we could look at the situation one by one. this is the number one reactor. first of all, there was the hydrogen bomb. right below the roof is the spent nuclear fuel pond, the water level and the spent fuel rods became exposed and in the reactor, the fuel there is believed to be damaged because the water levels fell and not the number two reactor, the outer building is still intact. however, the water level and the spent nuclear fuel pond is coming down and the fuel is being exposed. and in the reactor also, as in the other reactor the fuel rods have been damaged and for the number two reactor, was there a hydrogen explosion and the pressure control mechanism system has also been damaged and
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in the number three reactor, since three days ago, the water dousing activity has focused much on this reactor. here also the explosion blew off the roof and the water and the spent fuel pond has almost been depleted. that's why this reactor was doused intensively and the reactor is also believed to be damaged and in the number 4 reactor and the number has been decreased in the spent nuclear fuel, and the dousing operations in the number four plant. one piece of good news today is that for the number five and number six reactors there was a power source remaining and there was a back up power system and the backup power system was restored and therefore they were able to lower the temperatures in the reactors to below 100
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degrees centigrade and nothing will happen in these two plants, it is believed. and for the number three reactor the pressure in the containment vessel rose. . >> translator: can you tell us more? about an hour ago the government gave a news conference and around this part of the number three reactor, the pressure levels rose so the immediate response was deemed to be necessary, but after that the pressure fell and in the news conference it was explained that right now they're pouring seawater, pumping seawater into these reactors and it's believed that the pressure rose because they pumped in an enormous amount of seawater so attention is being paid to that point. right now they managed to avoid a situation where pressure can cause problems and as we saw in the video the power needs to be restored. right now for number two, work is going on intensively to
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restore power to reactor number two and if i can explain in similar detail, this is the number two reactor, the outer building is intact and in the spent nuclear fuel pool the water is also depleting, but they cannot pump water in from the outside because the building is intact so they need to recover the power source in this reactor so they can start filling the pool and there is a rope here that they're trying to put up or they have put up by the end of this morning a provisional transmission cable. it's about 1.5 kilometers long, and they worked all night and they finally managed to connect this power cable to the number two reactor this morning. so now what they're doing is to try to connect the cable inside the number two reactor to the central control room. >> translator: mr. yamaguchi, we
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were observing the water in the reactors, how effective was it? what is your analysis? >> translator: i think it was effective in a very secure way. i said it was because, for one, the spent fuel storage pool is cooled. spent fuel with the heat generation is very small and just the sub version to enter the water can remove any part of the power heat generation, power and also the radiation level went down because of the immersing the spent fuel it has a containment effect so that reducing radiation and the spent fuel storage pool is injected into the water and it
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is helpful to the procedure of injecting water. it can be applied to the other reactor yes, indeed. we know that already we have secured that the power coating in a secure manner. professor yamaguchi it is a demanding restraint on the npower and time. yes, indeed. so far you see that we've come this far because the operators work very, very hard fighting against the high level of the radiation that they concentrated their will and skills, for example. yesterday, the tokyo fire department injected water and that the target they had to flexibly take the appropriate manner minute by minute. for the people on the ground that know of the current conditions of the structure of
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the plant, well, the condition is very demanding and continues to be so. however, the front-line operators should have a good support behind them so that they can give full play to their skills. >> translator: mr. yamamoto, of course, the spring operation is a stop-gap measure before restoring the electricity and the final solution is electricity storage, and if we restore the power what can we expect? >> translator: as you have mentioned it is a stopgap measure and the restoration of the power can be a comprehensive measure. two effect. one is to cool the spent fuel storage pool and number two is the cooling of the reactor, per se. please look at this model here and here you can see that the spent fuel storage pool and the
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spent fuel rods and you can see that the level of the water is low and the heat is generated. the radioactive material has been eliminated and what we have to do today is inject the water. and probably, we believe, that the spent fuel rods are all tightly covered by water and that's why the radio activity stopped to be emitted into the air, but this is not the absolute measure because we have to keep pumping in the water. however, there is a pipe and if we can circulate the water this is a cooler. and you can cool recycled water to keep cooling the spent fuels which can save us from spraying any further. that's number one.
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number two, this is a containment system and the fuels are installed here and these are heated and so we have to heat and cool these overheated fuels and in order to so that cccs is an emergency core cooling system. right here. yes, indeed. it is a section, emergency cooling system. eccs, but that they do with the powerful jet, they can jet the water and by shouting, dousing that the core and that the fuel can cool them all together. >> translator: so once the power is recovered you can switch it on and water will start circulating.
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well, the wiring work has been done, however, there are still some issues to be cleared and the issues are -- well, we have injected seawater into this so it means that these equipments could be submerged in seawater and you may know that if you turn on the electricity it may short circuit the motors and also the power distribution panel. you have to check every one of these equipments to show they're okay and maybe you might have to replace the motors. you go through all of this, and if everything is okay then you can switch it on, but this work all has to take place under high radiation levels and also right now it's totally dark there and you only have flashlights to work with.
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in order to overcome the crisis what are the scenarios that we can think about and how and when will we see the next development? >> translator: well, right now we're taking emergency measures to keep cooling the systems here so that the situation doesn't turn worse. however, in the end we want a stable cooling system so that the reactors could be kept sound and also the radiation could be contained inside. once the power is recovered we will be able to have a stable cooling system in place so that the next step would be to make sure that radiation is contained inside and to bring down the radiation level and with that we will be able to stop the spreading of radioactive materials and then after that we will have to have the experts in place to, first of all, assume what may happen under certain situations and try to follow up with all kinds of
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countermeasures. now after the operations took place there were people who tried to evacuate to areas that were further away from the nuclear power plant and people are very anxious as they evacuate. >> translator: there are residents who are evacuating from the town. in order to secure their safety they evacuated even further. with no end of the crisis in sight, residents who live near the nuclear power plant are either leaving fukushima prefecture or evacuating to fukushima city. the disaster response headquarter is busy looking after the crowds of people evacuating toward the city center. the evacuees are asking authorities to examine adverse
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health effects from radiation. what do you prioritize, this official says they're going from one evacuation center to another and listening to the needs of the people. experts in radiation has been gathered from all over japan. they are doing the rounds of the evacuation shelter. experts say he has come from kushu. on this day the experts visited a setup and the high cool in fukushima city. every day new evacuees are arriving here. the examination for radiation per person takes one minute. special equipment is used to
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measure the amount of radiation adhering to the surface of the person's body. the doctor tells this child there is no problem with his health. if there are no problems in order to make the residents feel secure a card is issued telling them they are free of radiation. on this day nobody showed problems in the examination. so far, fukushima prefecture authorities have measured radiation levels of 57,000 residents. and so far, no one needed to be washed free of contamination. this mother said they were all right, but she was very worried about her child.
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the fear of invisible radiation weighs heavily evacuees already from the damage done by the quake and the tsunamis. this woman is asked what she wants to do the most now. she says that she wants to return to her home and look for her family members who are still missing. she says that is all that she wants to do, return home. preparations are being made for unexpected events that workers at the power plant may encounter. this is an emergency medical
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facility that will accommodate workers should they become exposed to large dosages of radiation. radiologists and state of the art equipment have been brought here from all over japan. thiss a mobile shower facility which enables washing away radiation without contaminating the surroundings. and this is the latest device for measuring the amount of radiation inside the human body which is very difficult do. all resources are on standby 24/7. this medical expert says that the situation is still very worrisome. so if anyone is exposed to large doses of radiation, he wants to be able to accurately assess the level of exposure.
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